The company has just announced a new YouTube initiative that aims to prevent people from finding extremist and terrorism propaganda videos.
"This early product integration of the Redirect Method on YouTube is our latest effort to provide more resources and more content that can help change minds of people at risk of being radicalized", said the YouTube team in a blog post.
On Thursday, YouTube said it would introduce the Redirect Method, which essentially takes users who are looking for that extreme content and instead directs them toward debunking videos.
As the Verge reports, "An earlier pilot of the Redirect Method led to 320,000 individuals viewing 'over half a million minutes of the 116 videos we selected to refute ISIS's recruiting themes.' " While that's promising, it may run aground against the ways that terrorists get around YouTube's existing content restrictions. The site came under fire recently after major advertisers found their ads running alongside extremist propaganda videos.
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YouTube is also collaborating with several NGOs to create video content to counter the message of these extremist videos. This plus the other programs that YouTube is using behind the scenes will hopefully help identify and remove extremist videos on the platform.
Over the next few weeks, YouTube said is plans to expand the redirect functionality to a wider set of search queries in non-English languages, using machine learning to dynamically update search query terms.
While superficially commendable, the Redirect Method does raise the specter of intervention and censorship. Google will also be working with Moonshot CVE going forward to help launch the Redirect Method in Europe. "As we develop this model of the Redirect Method on YouTube, we'll measure success by how much this content is engaged". And this isn't the only way Google is fighting extremist messaging on YouTube.
Whether these steps will be sufficient to combat extremist and terrorist content on YouTube is the great conundrum, but it certainly feels reassuring that Google is not kidding around when it comes to the spread of extremist and terrorist propaganda on its platforms.